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French competition watchdog consults on Canal+ restrictions

Autorité de la Concurrence LogoFrance’s competition watchdog has launched a public consultation on whether restrictions placed on Canal+ four years ago in relation to its merger with TPS and acquisition of free-to-air channels D8 and D17 should be lifted, adapted or renewed for another five years.

Reviewing the TPS merger in 2012, the Autorité de la Concurrence placed a large number of restrictions on the pay TV operator to force it to foster diversity among distributors and independent channels, preserve competition, particularly in video-on-demand and subscription video-on-demand, and protect the financing of French cinema.

Restrictions included limitations on contracts between Canal+, US studios and French producers, an obligation to make Studio Canal on-demand rights available to all who required them, and the placing of Canal+’s stake in Orange Cinéma Séries with an independent trustee.

Other obligations related to Canal+ distributing a certain number of independent channels, restrictions on channels with exclusive content and supervision of broadcasting rights to make them available to new digital platforms, among others.

Restrictions were also placed on Canal+’s ability to strike deals with US studios and acquire content from Studio Canal for distribution on the free-to-air channels, as well as restrictions on sports rights and other free-to-air rights.

The consultation will cover whether the competitive eimpact of new servies such as SFR Sport and Netflix has changed the game sufficiently for restrictions to be amended and whether there is a need to distinguish between the basic TV services provided by ISPs and pay services. It will also look at the changing nature of premium content and the impact of the acquisition of D8 and D17 on the content acquisition market.

The public consultation will be open until September 30, and the watchdog plans to issue a decision by June 23 2017.